Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon ~ this is the most addictive way to prepare my favorite healthy veggie, and it’s so quick and easy!
Like so many Americans, we spent much of today in the car. The trip home from our daughter’s college took us longer than usual because we had to negotiate closed routes across Vermont and Massachusetts due to the river flooding from Irene. We abruptly came upon road closed signs with no forewarning or detour suggestions…and with spotty cell service, even google couldn’t help us. Of course we don’t stock road maps in the glove compartment, that’s so ‘yesterday’. Thank goodness my husband has a sense of direction, otherwise we’d still be circling somewhere out in Western Mass. Luckily we passed through gorgeous scenery which kept us entertained, and we treated ourselves to our usual stop at McDonalds. Did you know some of them now have coffee milkshakes? Now if they can just get started on that veggie burger and sweet potato fries…
The ride (or flight as in years past) home from these college drop-offs is always full of rich conversation. It usually starts out with the pangs of leaving…the simple but deep emotions that come with that last hug and the actual pulling away in the car. That unsettling moment when our attention shifts from being squarely focused on our child back on to ourselves, the traffic, our cups of coffee and the drive home. Inevitably we begin with some good old parental self-doubt and sense of regret—did we do enough with our daughter, spend enough time walking the campus with her, meeting her new friends, listening to her? Did we give her enough money, did we give her any money?
The goes on for a few miles, but soon turns to the positive. How happy and relaxed she looked. How her friends seem supportive, and how fascinating her classes will be this semester…how perfect it is that her dorm is right next to a dining hall…how great it was that we finally found a way to hang that shoe rack without gouging the wall… Talking all this out seems to ease our transition from one reality to the next. By the time we’ve reached McDonalds, we’re on to whether we have dog food in the house. We have it down to a science.
I won’t be cooking today, but last week I made these Brussels sprouts…they should tide you over. As the summer corn and tomatoes start to dwindle some of us are going to need a little coaxing to get excited about fall and winter veggies. Not me, though. I get tempted by Brussels sprouts all year round, and when I spot the tiny ones I grab them no matter what the temperature is or what’s on the menu for the night. I fit them in somehow.
I usually eat them roasted in good olive oil, with a dash of salt and pepper. Roasting preserves all the vitamins and cancer fighting properties in the sprouts, it also keeps them bright green and firm so they’re much more appetizing to non-believers. But if you still need a little more convincing, try adding some bacon and balsamic vinegar.
Chop a few slices of bacon and lay them out on a baking sheet. Cook the bacon in a 400 degree oven until it’s rendered some of its fat and it’s almost done. Remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel, and pour off about 1/2 of the fat.
Put your Brussels sprouts on the pan (cut off the stump ends, leaving them whole if they’re small, or half them if bigger) and drizzle them with some olive oil. Roast them for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until they’re crispy on the outside and tender but still firm inside. A taste test is useful. About halfway through the cooking, add the bacon pieces back in and douse everything with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Season them with salt and pepper.
The result is addicting. The roasting crisps the outer leaves of the sprouts and caramelizes the natural sugars (yes, Brussels sprouts have natural sugar) The Balsamic vinegar adds another layer of smokey sweetness. I can’t figure out why someone hasn’t mass marketed roasted Brussels sprout leaves…they’re better than potato chips, honest!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- 4-5 strips of thick cut bacon
- 1 lb small Brussels sprouts
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Lay out the bacon on a baking sheet and bake just until it has rendered its fat and the bacon is almost crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and pour off the excess fat, leaving a good amount still on the pan.
- Trim the ends from the sprouts, and cut larger ones in half. Leave the smaller ones whole. Arrange them in a single layer on the pan with the bacon fat and toss them around to coat. Season with a little salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the sprouts have begun to caramelize and soften. Toss them around with a spatula a couple of times during cooking so they roast evenly. About halfway through the cooking add the bacon to the pan, crumbling it up in large pieces. Drizzle everything with a light sprinkle of the vinegar. Toss well.
- Serve with more vinegar on the side, if you like.